Juba — Following protests and inter-ethnic conflict in South Sudan's Western Bahr el Ghazal in December, the state has launched an reconciliation process to promote dialogue and confidence building among citizens.
The government's proposed transfer of the administrative headquarters of Wau County led to protests in December, the polices response to which led to the death of 20 people in Wau town, collated figures from government sources indicate.
Local leaders have now accepted move from Wau town to Bagari, which is 12 miles south west of the state capital. Many members of the Balanda ethnic group, initially rejected the change, perceiving it to be an attempt to marginalise their community.
The government, however, argues that the move is necessary to provide better services to people in rural areas. Investigation committees are looking into the incidents in Wau as well as the killing of 26 Dinka civilians in the Farajallah area, some 48 miles south west of Wau town, also in December.
Disunity and hatred amongst people can only breed underdevelopment and dislodge the peace and stability people enjoy in their communities, the Governor of Western Bahr el Ghazal, Rizik Zachariah Hassan said Friday.
Hassan was speaking at an official function launching dialogue and confidence building among citizens of the state during which he observed that when people are united and respect different opinions and view, it will lead to development and progress.
Governor Hassan told participants that it is their responsibility to come up with projects that would benefit the community they are serving and to ensure that unity, respect and understanding are maintained and become the order of the day in the community.
"I have always emphasised on peace building and I continue to put more emphasis on it here today. My advice to our people, particularly young people, the youth group, is that you must work in partnership and promote unity in the village, without which you can hardly achieve your target goals," he said.
He called on the community to take ownership of the peace and confidence building projects in their areas.
He also tasked the community elders to engage both the past and the present committee members into mature dialogue, emphasising that without genuine dialogue and negotiation between the people, the misunderstanding that exists between the two people would not be resolved.
"Please bury your past differences and woSudanrk towards a common understanding and the advanced development of this state," Hassan reportedly told the gathering.
State minister of information Alfred Derek Uya said the meeting was aimed at discussing issues confronting the state and to layout plans for implementation.
"The conference will be discussing the need to live in peace, take reconciliation as way to mend ties and putting behind the past in order move together and live as one people and the same family", Uya told Sudan Tribune on Friday.